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Woodland Trails: The joys of rewinding a recoil spring

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And we call ourselves modern. Sure, we landed a man on the moon. And I guess that dropping a little four-wheel-drive remote control car on Mars is pretty neat as well. Cell phones that take pictures and text halfway around the world and back are OK too, I guess. Wind power. Ethanol. Solar energy. Did I mention pizza delivery? Now that is high tech. All you do is call in and you can have pepperoni and anchovy pizza in 30 minutes or less or it's free!

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But this is an outdoor column so I have to look at the latest technology there too. Nah. I've done that before and I don't want to do it again. That's because I want to go the other way. There are a few things that need to be changed. Modernized! In fact, there is one thing that probably hasn't changed since the first motorized engine came about way back in Henry Ford's time. I mean, if Thomas Edison was so smart why didn't he think of a better way to start a gas small engine.

If you have ever had a recoil spring break on a lawn mower, chain saw, outboard motor or the worst yet -- an ice auger, then you know what I mean. Pull cord motors haven't changed ever, ever -- never! Why is that? You would think that with all of the latest technologies and great accomplishments that someone would have figured out a better way to start a little engine.

My son owns an old Eskimo ice auger, and the rewind broke. You know how it starts with coil rewinds. First, it catches a little. You just ignore it because after a couple of seconds it usually goes back in by itself. You pull again. It starts and it's OK. But as time passes the delay will inevitably get longer. Right now the delay in my log splitter can be 15 to 30 seconds before it rewinds. But as long as it works, we tend to ignore the problem and continue to use it.

You see, there's a reason for ignoring rewind mechanisms on motors. Nothing is as difficult to manage than a rewind coil. If you have ever had one pop and shoot off into the ionosphere, then you know what I mean. I've rewound them and tried to get the thing back in place without the coil slipping. But if the little pin or lock isn't in just the right place and you just let up for a second -- whammo -- it slips away like an overtime loss in a football game, just one win away from the Super Bowl. Sorry to bring that up but I'm still hurting and I need to talk. OK, OK, I'm better now; back to the recoil spring.

And never try to take the entire contraption off because if you do, it will never go back on the same way. If a machine ever had a mind of its own, and I don't mean that stupid car in that weird sci-fi movie that had a brain of its own, it's a recoil spring.

As I look back on my dealings with rewind springs I can remember one, the very first one that actually allowed me to fix it on the first try. That's how they trap you. They let you win the first game, kinda like a pool hustler lets you win the first game or two and then he cleans out your wallet faster than a rewind spring pops back outta whack!

Josh also owns a Laser Mora hand ice auger. Those new blades shave the ice closer than Norry the barber used to take hair off a neck when he cut hair on Main Street back in the day. But today, with the ice approaching 20 inches thick, a sharp hand auger sorta made what was a fun thing hard work. That holds especially true when you have to drill a ton of holes trying to find sunnies and crappies when they don't want to cooperate.

So right now the old Eskimo is sitting in the garage laughing at us because it looks like it has the rest of the winter off. I've talked to a couple of relatives to get a few tips on what Josh was doing wrong and they tell me that it's all so very easy. But brothers Dick and Dean both said in the next breath that they won't help and neither will bro-in-law Ralph. They said not to bring it by their houses either! I mean, if it's so easy, well?

So in the meantime the next cold snap will thicken the ice to over two feet deep. Son Josh gave up on the rewind. He thinks it's cursed. I guess I might have to try it myself. If you know me, that's a scary thought. The last successful mechanical maneuver I pulled off was back in 1969 when I installed an eight-track in my '67 white Firebird Convertible. And it didn't have a rewind spring!

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